See the title!
One year ago today, I posted the first post on the Ontological Geek, to an audience of my wife and a few of my friends. Today, I post this anniversarial (not a word) update with a few lessons under my belt and a year’s worth of articles and comments posted on the Internet for all to see and, hopefully, enjoy.
First, I wanted to make sure to thank Matt Schanuel for writing the Additional Pylons column for the last eight months or so, as well as Jarrod Hammond, Tom Coberly, and Afh for writing guest articles.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife, Erin, who, in addition to generally making life livable, reads every one of my articles to ensure I make some semblance of sense and don’t embarrass myself too much.
I can’t help but feel a bit reflective, and so I thought I would share some of the thoughts I’ve been having. Hopefully they will entertain you.
19 Important Truths to Keep in Mind When Running a Semi-Serious, Not-For-Profit Blog
(Because Round Numbers Are Silly)
1. Writing once a week is probably a lie.
2. Any time you are excessively negative in a post, you will inevitably make a myriad of stupid errors and feel quite foolish.
3. Oftentimes your “great idea for a post” is only actually about a paragraph long.
4. Someone has always said what you are going to say better than you will. Say it anyway.
5. You will, periodically, go back through your archives and discover that there are entirely too many darn typos in things you supposedly proofread.
6. Don’t sulk when Jarrod Hammond writes you a guest article which is probably the best thing on the site. He wrote it for your site, after all, not the other guy’s.
7. Don’t lie to your audience about when you’re going to post late articles. And you always know when you’re lying, don’t pretend that you’re “giving yourself more motivation.”
8. You really don’t write very well at 3:00 in the morning any more.
9. Resist the urge to back through your college essays and find out if you were better at writing at 3:00 in the morning a few years ago. You weren’t. It will be a dramatically embarrassing experience.
10. Be nice. It stops some of the people who might hate you from burning you in effigy, and makes the trolls get bored and leave.
11. If Blogger’s internal stat-tracker is to be believed, sometimes 50 people from Russia will all simultaneously choose to go to your website and not click on any posts.
12. Blogger will frequently report that people have gotten to your website from the strangest places. Don’t click on the links out of curiosity. None of them will have any tangible connection to your website, and half of them will be pornography.
13. If in doubt, keep your stupid mouth shut. Especially if you haven’t had a couple of days to think over what you’re saying.
14. If not in doubt, consider keeping your stupid mouth shut anyway.
15. At some point, someone will post a link to your blog on a forum. Then, one of two things will happen: either very few people will click through, but a substantial percentage of them will read it, and some of them will become recurring readers, or tons of people will click through, and none of them will read it, and, if they bother mentioning your article at all, will only make fun of the fact that you apparently like philosophy. Try not to tear out your hair when this happens. You don’t really have any to spare.
16. No one really cares that your blog has a Twitter account. Most of the people who follow it know you personally. Update it anyway. It’s good for you, and maybe someday you’ll figure out what to do with the darn thing.
17. If you are too drunk to drive, you are too drunk to write pseudo-philosophical discourse on much of anything other than beer.
18. Do not impulsively launch new weekly features in the middle of your busiest time at work. You will feel very silly when you miss the second iteration of a weekly feature because you were too busy. Your readers are too polite to call you on this, but they are all, every one of them, rolling their eyes when you do that.
19. The stats haven’t substantially changed in the last thirty seconds.
On a slightly more serious note, here are some things I would like to see on the Ontological Geek by this time next year:
1. More guest articles, from more guest authors. I would love to get to the point where I can post a new guest article every week, but for now, I would be quite pleased to see one a month.
2. Regular contributors updating at least twice a month. Once a week is foolishly optimistic for a fairly small, non-paying writing gig like this, but twice a month seems reasonable.
3. At least one more semi-regular contributor by the end of the year, to try to expand the number of voices regularly given the floor here.
4. Relationships with other blogs, websites, and Video Game People of similar levels of fame, so that we can start to expand our audience and develop lasting relationships.
5. Continued steady growth in views-per-month. We have (with a few random spikes) kept a pretty steady level of growth going since about December of 2010, and I would love for that rate to at least stay steady, and hopefully increase.
Call to Action
So, what does that mean for you?
Well, if you want to help us out, there are several ways you can do so:
First, tell friends that you think would be interested in this sort of thing about our website! At the end of the day, most young websites spread their dark, corrosive influence through word-of-mouth, so if you want to see us gain a larger audience (and therefore more and better content, which will attract a larger and better audience, lather rinse repeat), tell your friends!
After that, you can communicate our existence to any and all Internet People who might be interested. Tell them that you enjoy this website and think it might be worth checking out. Publicity is good!
If you feel particularly inspired, we welcome and encourage additional guest articles and, as mentioned above, would really like to have some more regular or semi-regular contributors, so if you feel like writing something about video games, art, other miscellaneous geeky things, or really anything interesting that you think our kind of audience would enjoy, e‑mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll talk!
Finally, the most important thing you can do to help is to keep reading, and keep giving us feedback. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to make sure you know when we post things. This will be an added benefit, since we also use those channels to post particularly interesting things that we think our readership will enjoy from other websites. Let us know what you think of our articles, or if there are any subjects you would particularly like one of us to tackle. It’s fun for us to just write about whatever we want, but it’s more fun if we know that we’re addressing some particular question one of our readers has raised.
Also, of course, keep being awesome. One of the things I most enjoy about running the Ontological Geek is the fact that our readership is almost unreasonably polite and intelligent. In all the comments we’ve gotten, even on our relatively inflammatory articles, we’ve only really received one or two comments that have showcased Typical Obnoxious Internet Behavior, and this fact starts to rekindle my faith in humanity.
Thanks very much, and keep being fantastic,
Editor and Columnist
The Ontological Geek
Here are some random stats, for those of you who are curious:
As of this writing, and including this post, the Ontological Geek is currently home to 73 posts, or approximately 97,196 words.
Of these posts, 23 are Philosopher-Geek posts, 12 are Additional Pylons, and 5 are guest articles. The remainder are one-off news items or (since-discontinued) weekly features.
The average post is thus approximately 1350 words long. The average Philosopher-Geek post is approximately 2347 words long, the average Additional Pylon is approximately 1700 words long, and the average guest article is approximately 1515 words long.